8-Bit Nostalgia – Introducing the AVI-8 Flyboy Capcom 1942 Automatic Limited Edition

If you were to stop and think of an iconic video game from your childhood, assuming you were an early millennial, one of a handful of characters or series might first come to mind. Mario, Sonic, Mortal Kombat, etc. While making a watch inspired by any of those major franchises would certainly draw a dedicated customer base, it wouldn’t be a surprising thing to do. This is why I got very excited when I learned that AVI-8 was collaborating with Capcom to create a watch inspired by 1942.

1942 was first released, apparently, in 1984. I too was released that year, but I only played it for the first time, as memory serves, in an arcade at a hotel I was staying at with my family. I was likely five or six. I played it for what felt like hours, though given that I was spending my parent’s quarters, it was likely a lot less. Regardless, I was obsessed. I had dreams about it, neigh, nightmares. I later discovered I could rent it for my Nintendo at the local video store (feeling old yet?) and the obsession continued.

You see, unlike the typical side-scrolling platform games of the day, which I wasn’t very good at, 1942 was a vertical-scrolling shooter. Your fighter plane was always firing, and you swayed left and right to avoid incoming ammunition. There were powerups, big bosses, levels with ships, and other stuff that I just found epically exciting at the time. It was a fun game.


But, what it lacked was a central character. An iconic central figure to idolize, save a little and fairly non-descript plane. So, when I heard about the AVI-8 Flyboy Capcom 1942 Automatic Limited Edition, I was curious how they would pull it off. The answer is, with a surprising amount of subtlety.

As part of AVI-8’s Flyboy series, the case is a pretty straightforward style in 42 millimeters of brushed steel with “Capcom” milled into the left side in a pixelated font. Polished bevels on the lugs grant a slight elevation. The case back features a stylized illustration of a plane in black plating. This is the kind of thing you would have found on the game instructions, packaging, or cartridge label. The dial, however, is where the real fun happens.

A layered design with a surface and a raised chapter ring, it uses stamped textures to create a scene from the game. On the lower surface, just above six, is the player. The plane. The main and only character of the story. Your ship. You’ll find it currently engaged in a dogfight with some approaching planes, just as it would look in the game. It’s not very aggressive, rather it recedes into the background.

While the rest of the dial might look fairly standard for an AVI-8 with bold markers and an aviator layout, there are some additional fun details to be found. First, the large six, nine, and twelve numerals use the same typeface as the 1942 logo. It’s a blocky type with clear military styling, if a bit exaggerated in dimensions. That said, it works on a pilot’s watch, and obviously makes sense in the setting. The sword-shaped hour and minute hands are skeletonized, but still lume coated, which is a nice touch.

The seconds hand is the most overt detail on the watch, once again featuring the protagonist’s plane firing a multi-colored beam as it swings around the dial. It is perhaps a touch odd to use the plane twice in one setting, and nearly at the same size, but given the use of color, your eye only picks one to focus on at a time.

There are a couple of cool, semi-hidden, details as well. The date disk has been modified to include a pixelated typeface for the numerals. More of a general nod to early 8-bit gaming, it’s a fun detail I quite enjoy. The backside of the clasp on the bracelet, the part that touches your wrist, also features an attractive laser-engraved illustration of a plane mid-dog fight. It’s great to see AVI-8 decorate something that is often completely overlooked.

The best detail can only be seen in low light. AVI-8 got quite playful with the lume, using multiple colors and depth. The markers on the raised chapter ring glow green, as do the skeletonized hands. The markers on the dial, including the numerals, glow blue. But, best of all, the planes on the dial surface glow as well, making the scene pop out. They don’t glow super bright, but with a solid charge, it’s a fun easter egg to appreciate.

The AVI-8 Flyboy Capcom 1942 Automatic Limited Edition is available in two colorways, the steel model seen here and a blacked-out version for $365 and $385 respectively. Both models are powered by the NH35 automatic caliber and come in collector’s boxes with two straps and various game-related accouterments. For 1942 fans, of which I am sure I am not alone, this watch is a fun reminder of those days sitting a few feet from the TV, playing until our heads hurt. Given the semi-cult nature of the game, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing other 1942 watches in the near future, so don’t hesitate as there are only 300 per color being made. AVI-8

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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